September 5 - (Viewpoint Housing News) – A housing expert has expressed her desire to see the existing gap in the Nigerian housing deficit bridged sustainably.
Arc. Cecilia Atohengbe, a Consultant Architect and real estate enthusiast, on Monday, said housing delivery is a complex professional and highly capital intensive process, which needs efficient collaborations of key players in the industry and the end user population, because of “the overwhelming challenges in the industry”. In her words, a collaborative approach will bring “better practical solutions realistic to Nigerians”.
Emphasizing the need for specialist consultants to relate with the developers more as consortiums that simplify the process and time taken to deliver the large number of housing units that stand as a challenge before us.
A devoted personality to finding solutions to challenges of provision of affordable housing, she has grown in experience, attended conferences that afforded her the opportunity to meet like minds and share ideas on inventing practical solutions to the built environment, considering the present economic state of the average Nigerian.
Speaking ahead of her planned Shelter Conference to be held in the Edo State capital, Benin City, from the 25th to 29th of September, she said it is pertinent that the sector should be seen as a priority. The scope of its value chain from land acquisition, planning, architectural and engineering designs to complete construction, is a huge economic asset that should be explored and mined strategically for sustainable economic wealth of the country and its citizenry.
Arc. Atohengbe, the CEO of Neighbourhood Turnkey Project Limited and the President of Charis Advantage LGI Cooperative, also posited that the continuous collation of real-time statistical information (data) meant to facilitate understanding of on-the-spot housing situation and used for future references purposes to guide development investments and typologies, can be used for finding solutions to problems or averting them entirely.
She agreed that accuracy in statistics creates room for improved planning and gives a defined lead on what resources can be utilised in finding solutions. Collating of data also guides the growth of the sector and gives room to predict the outcome of the future. She opined that understanding the lack of accurate data has a great power to stall or derail the growth of a sector.
With proper data management, one gets to know the cause of problems defying solutions and areas for improvement are easily picked. It also affords quick responses to the needs of the people. These are strategic areas of what Arc. Atohengbe said she has been trying to bring to the fore and profer solutions over the past years.
She said indices from the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics (NBS) and the Family Homes Fund Limited (FHFL) reveal that, as at the end of 2021, Nigeria has over 28 million housing deficit but, since that time, there had not been any new statistics, something she said the SHELTER CONFERENCE 2023 aims collaboratively to address.
Looking at that volume of deficit, the country needs to deliver not less than a million houses annually.
“We are not able to do up to half a million in a year. So, how do we meet up with the deficit and begin to provide onwards”?
“The deficit figures are growing annually”, she said.
A lot she said still need to be done in the area of getting field Information from Nigerians who need houses, what type of houses they need and how to go about providing these houses in a way that suits their affordability.
Her organisation has embarked on a street to street, shop to shop, house to house survey in the city of Edo State, that has an estimated population of over 5 million residents, to put field tests to some of the housing statistics the state already has. The survey showed that over 74 percent of respondents complained of the need to have a home, while some inherited dilapidated buildings that need to be renovated.
“So, to say that Benin City has an average of 5 million persons, means that from this field report, the state has an average of 3.5 million home request. That’s what it revealed, she said.
“Meanwhile, we heard that the statistics for Edo State as projected, is 400,000 and counting. Now, compare the 400,000 we got state-wise to the 3.5 million gotten from our street count, it tells you that we still have a lot of work to do with our statistics”.
This is one of the core objectives that makes the Shelter Conference inevitable.
“All of these, we have to meet in a roundtable to discuss, where the stakeholders within this region can look at these issues and be able to solve them in collaboration with players outside the region”, Arc. Atohengbe said. The conference will see the display of various housing projects within this region.
That is the reason this forthcoming conference is inevitable. We held the first one last year and we thank God for the opportunity to plan for it this year’s again. It’s going to be an annual event for us to continuously engage, review progress and engage more”.
“We come again another year to have more discuss. In another five or more years from now, we see that the conference would have produced results that we can actually see practically within the environment.
“It’s not just to have a conference that is exciting, but to have actual results that would be reference points as the fallout of the conference every year. Between this year and next, we expect to see practical results. The conference is not in isolation but, tied to project delivery”, she said.
The Shelter Conference, was born out of the idea of getting stakeholders to interact more critically, with regards to delivering affordable homes and it will proffer critical, practical solutions to housing problems. She said that the conference is in collaboration with various key industry stakeholders notable of which is the Housing Development Advocacy Network. The conference will domesticate international proceedings from the Africa International Housing Show (AIHS) and other platforms as well as engage with leaders in the sector so that a wider number of developers and professionals, government and policy makers within the region can participate more intimately with the realities and possibilities to practice for effective and efficient housing delivery.
“When you discuss at the national level, it may not be as home grown as when you bring it down to the specifics of a particular region”, she said.
The conference looks forward to bringing practical benefits to all key stakeholders delivery.
Neighbourhood Turnkey Projects Limited is a consultancy and building production outfit that is involved in EPC (Engineering Procurement Contracts) projects. It does Turnkey projects in the sense that it takes projects from start to delivery, from conception through designs, to construction and commissioning/ handing over keys to the owners.
“That is why it is called “turnkey” project, Arc. Atohengbe added.